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May 23, 2009

On the Way to Spain

Filed under: Food, Spain, Travel — anotherheader @ 9:25 pm

Nick Dog is my copilot

Nick Dog is my copilot

You might be confused as to why there is a picture of Nick, The Wonder Dog, on an account of a trip to Spain. Yes, Nick has been my main travel companion and copilot on my trailer trips through the West for the last couple of years. While I’ve ridden my mountain bike on some of the most amazing trails in the Western Americas, Nick has sought to establish, mark, and maintain a multi-state wide territory. Travel is slower with Nick. He never really liked the journeys in the truck, but he always liked the destination. And for Nick, every stop was a destination. “Can we stay the night here?” he’d always ask with his eyes at every rest stop and gas station along the way. He has been a great companion, but he hasn’t been allowed to come along on Becky and my overseas adventures. And, he won’t be coming on this trip either.

Nick shows Becky around the RV park in Virgin UT

Nick shows Becky around the RV park in Virgin UT

Over the last month, Nick has been showing blood in his urine. This week we got the bad news that we had feared. An ultrasound at the vet showed that one of his kidneys had been overwhelmed by a “growth” and the follow-up x-ray showed a lump the size of a lemon in his lungs. He is still doing well. He wants his walks, and wants his food, but his time is short. He has had a long life for a big dog but it has been much, much to short for us.

Becky and I knew this was inevitable and had feared the worst. Nevertheless, we are not taking the news well. There was some thought of not going on this trip, but commitments and arrangements had been set. And besides, at home Nick knows that something is wrong. His owners are distraught. He is a sensitive dog and he doesn’t understand why we are not ourselves, but it worries him nonetheless. And there is the little issue of expensive personal electronic items being broken in frustration. It’s all just rationalization, but what can we do?


With heavy hearts, we took a taxi to the airport early in the morning. We were clearly out of sorts as we left much earlier for the airport than we needed to and checked a bag that we had meant to carry on. But we made our flight and we were off to the Basque and Catalonia regions of Spain.

Most of our trips have themes or areas of emphasis. This trip is all about food. In the Basque country we will be joined by our good friends Ganesan and Catherine and will eating fine food and drinking great wine for the days to come. Ganesan and Catherine have been our coconspirators on visits to some of the best restaurants in the world. Previous excursions have taken us to such notable places as El Bulli, The Fat Duck, The French

Nick, after trying to rid the West of borrowing rodents

Nick, after trying to rid the West of borrowing rodents

Laundry, and El Celler de Can Roca. A glance at the S. Pellegrino list of the World’s Best restaurants ( puts all these places near the top of the list. On this trip, we will add a few more notables including Mugaritz and Arzak from San Sebastian and Becky I will make a return visit to El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. We tried for a return engagement at El Bulli but the luck of a reservation did not happen this time. El Bulli might have been a once in a lifetime visit.

Filling the space between the highly Michelin starred gourmet feasts will be visits to Andra Mari (merely one Michelin star) and Asador Extebarri (number 39 on the S. Pellegrino list). In between there will be pintxos in Bilbao and San Sebastian, tapas in Barcelona, and wine tasting in La Rioja.

It seems unlikely that our morning sightseeing jaunts will be sufficient to burn off the calories of our indulgences. In the end, they may have to roll us on to the plane for our trip back to see our ailing best friend.


  1. We share your heavy hearts about Nick….been there, done that, still hurts. When the time comes, I’ll be very happy to know that Flip will get to romp with her best boy friend….or ignore him while he tries to gain her undivided, or any, attention. We’ll see you when you get back. betsy, jon, kids, mickey and Flip, in spirit.

    Comment by Betsy — May 24, 2009 @ 12:22 am

  2. Buster was very sad to hear of his friend Nick’s situation. He will miss his playmate alot, as Nick was the best at bringing out Buster’s playful side. I, too will miss their interaction alot as it was quite fun to watch.
    Buster says he will lift a leg for Nick and try to mark some ground for his friend.

    Comment by Berry for Buster — May 26, 2009 @ 12:51 am

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